Mel Kiper Jr. lives, eats, breathes and sleeps the NFL Draft, as you all know. And so if fans are already starting to think about next April, you know Mel has been for some time. He's got an Insider piece up on the five worst quarterback situations in the NFL, with an eye toward whether those teams can improve those situations in next year's draft. And No. 1 on the list is the Washington Redskins.
Yep, that's right.
At least one neutral observer thinks the Redskins' quarterback situation is the worst in the entire league.
Mel asked three questions about each team when compiling his list: 1. How bad is the current situation? 2. Is there a sense of a plan in place? and 3. Can the draft help? The problem he has with the Redskins seems to be focused on the first question and the creeping possibility that the answer to the third is "no." Here's what he had to say on the Skins:
Not only do the Redskins not have a long-term solution at the position in either Rex Grossman or John Beck, they've won enough to be well out of the Andrew Luck race. Washington could be better served trying to deal for a quarterback, or getting into position for a guy like Matt Barkley or Landry Jones. But there's a problem: If you think the Skins have a roster that's ready to compete for a playoff position in 2012 -- and I certainly think they could -- do you really want a rookie in there? I wonder if the Redskins are a team that looks at a trade for a current starter, or targets a guy that might be ready to take over, such as Matt Flynn or Brian Hoyer. Either way, this is a team that is in desperate need of a solution.
A very interesting perspective.
The Redskins' defense already ranks among the league's best in several categories and should be even better next year. And on offense, quarterback isn't the only position you can expect Mike Shanahan to address. It may well be that Shanahan has his eye on one of those potentially available veterans whose learning curve wouldn't be as steep as that of a rookie. Personally, I think Shanahan will be focused on trying to find someone he thinks can be a "franchise" quarterback, and that the draft is the most likely place for him to find that. But I do not think Shanahan will try and force that -- i.e., draft a quarterback he thinks is almost good enough to be a franchise guy just because he has a hole at that position. He could have done that this past year if that were what he wanted to do. He passed on every quarterback he had a chance to draft. If the Redskins don't think their long-term solution is in the draft, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see them go out and hunt for someone who's already in the league and can fit their system. And as Mel suggests, it may be a name you hadn't even considered.
On Sunday, the Jets travel to the Washington D.C. area to face an unfamiliar opponent -- the Redskins, whom they haven't played since 2007. The Jets are 1-8 against them. A few quick observations:
1. So far, Mike Shanahan hasn't been the answer. The Redskins (4-7) snapped a six-game losing streak, their longest since 1998, with a come-from-behind win in Seattle, 23-17. The Redskins have defeated only one team with a winning record, and it came on opening day -- the Giants (6-5), who may not have a winning record for much longer.
2. Shanahan is discovering it's tough to win when you don't have John Elway. He started the season with Rex Grossman, went to John Beck (0-3) and returned to Grossman (4-4). Grossman is mediocre, at best. He's the 28th-rated passer (73.6) and he tends to struggle in the red zone (three interceptions). Come to think of it, he struggles pretty much everywhere.
3. Rookie RB Roy Helu, a fourth-round pick out of Nebraska, has injected some life into the offense. He rushed for a career-high 108 yards against the Seahawks, adding seven catches. You have to consider him a two-way threat because of his ability to run after the catch. His YAC average is 8.2, 18th in the league.
4. The Redskins' biggest threat in the passing game is TE Fred Davis, the type of weapon that could hurt the Jets' secondary. Davis already has 13 receptions of 20+ yards. They also have old friend Santana Moss, the Jets' No. 1 pick in 2001. Once a feared vertical threat, Moss has lost speed and no longer is an impact player.
5. The Jets' offensive line, coming off its most complete game, faces one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league. The Redskins have 33 sacks, tied for third in the league. Most of their pressure comes from the edges, OLBs Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan (six sacks apiece). They like to blitz out of their 3-4 base. In fact, they've used 5+ pass rushers on 43 percent of the passing plays.
6. Wonder if CB DeAngelo Hall will have anything to say to Rex Ryan. You may recall that during an episode of "Hard Knocks" in 2010, Ryan (miked, of course), yells to Hall during a pre-season game: "Hey, you ain't gonna tackle nobody. What are you taking about? That's why my brother got rid of your ass." In Oakland, he meant, where Rob Ryan used to be the defensive coordinator.
The ever-confident Rex Ryan (is that a redundancy?) believes the Jets haven't reached their potential. But they will, he vowed."I don't think we're playing our best yet," he said Wednesday. "I think the best is yet to come. Obviously, we're running out of weeks. We have to get it done right now. We recognize that. We're not ducking from that at all."
Reiterating what he said Monday, Ryan said the Jets (6-5) can do a lot of damage in the playoffs. Now all they have to do is get to the playoffs."Yes, I do believe we'd be dangerous once we get in the playoffs," he said.
STEVIE'S FINE : Bills WR Stevie Johnson was fined $10,000 by the league for his end-zone celebration, mocking Plaxico Burress' accidental, self-inflicted gun shot. Talk about getting off easy. Ryan gets $75,000 for a heat-of-the-moment vulgarity, and Johnson gets only $10,000 for a classless dance that was obviously scripted?
MORE COOK: Ryan didn't refute an ESPNNewYork.com report that said S Emanuel Cook was released because of an incident that occurred Monday at practice."Remember, I said we make decisions all the time here, what we always feel is in the best interest of our football team," he said. "We'll just leave it at that."
Cook, claimed on waivers by the Ravens, said he wasn't given a specific reason."I really don't know, I wasn't late, I don't know why," Cook told the Carroll County Times, adding, "I met with Mike Tannenbaum. He said we need to make a move. He said he had a better player. They made a push for somebody else."
First, a few numbers. Washington’s two starting outside linebackers, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, have six sacks each this season. Their team has 33 sacks on the season, third in the NFL. As the Jets prepare to face Washington, it’s clear this pass rush presents a challenge.“They are very talented on the outside,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said on Wednesday, the first day of preparation against Washington.
The Jets offensive line, which is tasked with guarding quarterback Mark Sanchez from all the pressure Washington’s defensive front can bring, has to manage the situation.“We’ve had challenges before,” RT Wayne Hunter said. “Against Denver, with (Elvis) Dumervil and Von Miller, Indianapolis with (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis, but as far as this is concerned, as a defensive unit as a whole, they’re good. There are three or four guys that have combined for 16 sacks, in a 3-4 defense, which is unheard of.”
The offensive line hasn’t been as airtight this season, and Hunter, the newest piece at right tackle, has given up a team-high six sacks. When C Nick Mangold missed two games with a high ankle sprain, the line tried to plug his spot with rookie Colin Baxter, who is no longer on the roster. The line played well last week against the Bills, and didn’t allow any sacks.“(It) may be a bigger challenge this week,” Moore said. “(Washington likes) to collapse the pocket on a quarterback and we’ve got to be firm inside — centers and guards — giving Mark the ability to step up when that comes in on him, which is natural. I think the guys are really looking forward to the week of preparation that’s going to lead into Sunday.”
Washington is scouting Sanchez, and on Wednesday linebacker London Fletcher said they have noticed that he works fast.“He gets the ball out of his hands pretty quickly,” said Washington linebacker London Fletcher. He makes decisions pretty quickly. He knows where he wants to go (with) the football. Those are things that you look at. The ball is not going to be in his hands for a very long time.”
In the first three weeks of the season, Sanchez endured a lot of contact with opposing defenses. He needed to be checked for a concussion and had an elbow injury before the Jets started to give him a greater cushion. But that will be harder to manage with Orakpo and Kerrigan lining up across the line of scrimmage.“Anytime you play in a 3-4 scheme, you talk about being able to pressure the quarterback and we have two outstanding outside linebackers who are really good at rushing the quarterback (and) putting pressure on the quarterback,” Fletcher said. “Those are staples of your defense, being able to rush the quarterback with your outside linebackers.”